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Also, Borderlands 2 has definitely improved on sidequests. What might originally appear to be a standard "fetch quest" often turns into something more interesting and unique. I never really felt I was mindlessly grinding as I played through it the first time. The second playthrough "True Vault hunter mode" is increasingly challenging and interesting as you go, and I'm contstantly finding new ways that I appreciate the game further. Little easter eggs like a section where you fight "Rakkman" (a reference to batman), a section structured like Minecraft (complete with breakable blocks, Endermen and new unlockable skins and heads as loot based on Minecraft), talking guns, guns that make your controller vibrate, and many others make the game unique. Raid bosses designed for level 50 co-op play and insane arena sections with waves of enemies keep the game fresh.
Some of the more prominent changes in the sequel are:1.) Greater variation between weapon manufacturers and overall feel.2.) More interesting and enjoyable use of comedy in dialogue3.) More diverse environments (less of a desert feel)4.) Better character classes and more diverse skill choices, making co-op more interesting and rewarding.5.) More diverse and interesting enemies, with more intelligent AI and unique qualities6.) A refined inventory and menu system7.) Better emphasis on story (although not massively so)
I don't feel that the game truly needs to be finished to review it correctly...but at least nearing the end game will give you a fuller understanding of the benefits each skill tree may offer and how the guns and accessories (relics, class mods, grenades etc.) have changed to make the game a much more rewarding experience. Many of the new features in the game aren't even mentioned in my list, such as the golden keys, the hidden bosses, frequency of DLC content, and more I'm fairly certain I'm missing. No-one can dispute that the addition of new character classes makes the game a lot more interesting as well, and considering that Bad*** points apply to all you characters...it encourages multiple playthroughs with different characters. Also, the addition of Slag (a new element that acts as a damage multiplier) makes things a lot more interesting.
To be honest, I'm not even sure that you've played the game at all from the looks of it. There are tons of improvements made in this sequel that are worth mentioning. As an RPG, you would very obviously need to play for an extended period of time to even attempt to make a judgement like this. In my experience the game is vastly superior to the original and is probably one of the best (and most addictive) games I have ever played.